Skip to main content

Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

See other formats


ij8             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
whirring around their pillars in the inky night; if they, themselves, have left only a few buried bodies to ten of their existence, bodies drained of their blood, with entrails removed, and turned into bandage-swathed mummies by skilled embalmers; nevertheless, many of their spirits still haunt the old places which they knew so well. The power of the so-called dead persists in Egypt above all other lands I know.
I discovered anew the presence of this intangible legacy when I sat on crossed legs inside one of the seven wall-niches within a pillared hall of Seti's Temple at Abydos, while strange figures stared down at me from or displayed themselves upon the pictured walls. After two hours' riding along the raised causeway that cut across sugar-cane plantations and bean-bearing fields, I had left the pleasant, fresh and vivifying early morning air—for I had set out before the rise of dawn—and crossed the flagged threshold of the old sanctuary built by the first of the Seti Pharaohs. The powerful sense of the Past crept quickly over me, thrusting its visions of a vanished epoch before my mind's eye as I sat there.
Involuntarily I saw the old processions pass along the paved stone floor and take their measured, rhythmic way to the altar chambers. Inevitably, I felt the strong impress of those ancient priest-magicians, who made this place one of their focal points tor the calling down of the benedictions of Osiris—the god whom they symboled as wearing a triple-crested high headdress. And some of their invocations possessed echoes which had reverberated through the heavens for century after century; for the great calm of a high presence began to enfold and enchant me, and under its benign wings I saw my earthly desire-filled existence slip away as sand slips through one's fingers.
Fittingly had Strabo, the classic geographer, written of his own dust-covered epoch: "At Abydos Osiris is worshipped, but in the temple no singer, no player on the pipe, nor on the cithara, is permitted to perform at the commencement of the ceremonies celebrated in honour of the god, as is usual in rites celebrated in honour of the gods/* Peace pervaded the white walls of this hall, a dreaming peace that the outer world did not know and could not understand. Martha, for all her hustle and bustle, received Christ's rebuke; Mary, the quiet and contemplative, received His praise. Not in noise and excitement do we find our finest hours; only when serenity descends